Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stop acting like congress, get something done on courthouse

Are you tired of all the opinions as to how the county should spend money for new and/or remodeled county facilities? We hear remodel the old hospital, tear down the old hospital, purchase land, trade land for land and so on. I’m tired of paying out thousands to the “experts” to suggest what we should do.
I have a building suggestion on which I would like taxpayer feedback. I’m hoping more people will voice an opinion on this subject.
We own the land the courthouse currently sits on. Designing a 3-story building connected to the east end of the courthouse, I come out with more than 16,000 square feet. It would not be a perfect match to the current courthouse, but the contrast could be minimized. The drive to the east would remain as it is. Double-parking all the way to the front street can be had without disturbing the front lawn and access to all utilities are close by.
The decision masters have proposed a $3 million budget for a new building. I’m not sure what the square footage would be. I’m estimating $200 per square foot, which would be a very nice interior (it can be done for $170 with less upgrades).
Another proposal that has been presented is to remodel (along with a new building) the old courthouse to the tune of $3.4 million. Are you kidding me? I definitely want to keep and remodel, but the proposal is more costly than a new building and we are talking about 12,000 to 13,000 square feet. Ridiculous.
Let’s take $1.5 million from that figure and use it for the upgrade and expansion, or build a completely new fairgrounds. I’m all for new. The fairgrounds bring dollars into the community. The 4-H Fair is a good example and they should have a nice arena with plenty of parking. Stillwater County is a farm and ranch community, and a new fairgrounds is a great way to display what we are all about.
Another proposal is a county library/community center. I was told that there is a very large possible donor list of people willing to give millions for a library. Libraries are used for everything from job fairs, speeches and informational speakers. However, library use for research and books is way down, as the digital world has changed research methods. There were 400 library closings from 2005 through 2011. I think that all counties should have a nice library, but let’s do a new study.
There are some empty old buildings on Pike Street (like Bertha’s) that could be remodeled, which would help the looks of the main street. If we include a very nice community center with a new library, I think that would be great. Surely the two could be combined for $5 million to $6 million. Three-million dollars sounds better to me.
Hiring outside “experts” I hope is ending when the debate seems ongoing. My simple message would be, quit acting like the U.S. Congress and get something done.

Rich Lloyd
Absarokee